Kat Kennedy's Reviews > Pushing the Limits

Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry
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Jul 26, 2012

it was amazing
bookshelves: contemporary-fiction, favorites, kat-s-book-reviews, leaves-awesomeness-behind, to-ya-or-not-to-ya
Read from August 03 to 04, 2012

When try­ing to find a way to describe this book – I set­tled on this: Push­ing The Lim­its is the clos­est I’ve ever got­ten to read­ing a Machetta book.

For any­one famil­iar with me or Machetta – that is the high­est praise I give.

Very rarely does a book make me laugh and cry at all – let alone mul­ti­ple times. But that’s what this book did. And really, what the hell kind of badass reviewer am I when I’m brought to snivel­ing, snotty tears by a book?

Noah and Echo don’t talk at school. Noah is the atyp­i­cal bad boy and Echo is the for­mer Teen Queen on the verge of reclaim­ing her for­mer glory. But Noah and Echo have a lot more in com­mon than they real­ize. They’re both bro­ken. This book is told through both of their view points as they start ther­apy and their lives start to unravel and they get pushed closer and closer together by their circumstances.

What I love is that there are three real­i­ties in this book. McGarry takes into account that there is Noah’s truth, Echo’s truth and then there’s this whole other crea­ture we’ll call What Is Actu­ally Hap­pen­ing. I haven’t seen some­one show flawed nar­ra­tion this well in a long time. What McGarry cap­tured per­fectly is that dis­con­nect while keep­ing me plugged in an sympathetic.

Exam­ple.

Noah is fight­ing for cus­tody of his younger broth­ers. When his par­ents died, he and his sib­lings were sep­a­rated. Noah was placed in a series of very bad and neg­li­gent homes while his broth­ers were placed with a cus­tody fam­ily who restrict his access to his sib­lings and are try­ing to adopt them.

Echo’s father and his new wife (Echo’s old babysit­ter) have a very rocky, unhealthy rela­tion­ship. He is con­trol­ling, the new wife is preg­nant and Echo is des­per­ate to try and make con­tact with her mother (who has been cut off from con­tact by Echo’s father).

At least – that is how it looks at the begin­ning. And it’s very easy to think that these adults in Echo and Noah’s lives are hor­ri­ble. But whilst Echo and Noah con­tinue to see them that way for awhile, and whilst I as the reader remained com­pletely empa­thetic as to why Noah and Echo saw them that way, it becomes clear that the sit­u­a­tion is not as cut and dry as that.

By the cli­max of both Echo and Noah’s sto­ries I was weep­ing uncon­trol­lably. I still cry when I think about those two parts of the book. McGarry’s writ­ing is pow­er­ful, emo­tive. Her char­ac­ter voices for both Noah and Echo were very well done – reflect­ing on their dis­tinct per­son­al­i­ties and char­ac­ter­is­tics. The plot con­tained lit­tle action and was largely car­ried by the myr­iad of rela­tion­ships and the mys­tery of Echo’s past – so fans of more fast paced, active nov­els may want to steer clear.

Mrs Collins, their ther­a­pist, plays an almost omnipo­tent, god­like char­ac­ter in the novel and brought a fresh, lov­able addi­tion. She was one of my favourites.

Over all, I think most read­ers are going to love this one. One of the absolute best books of 2012!
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Reading Progress

08/03/2012 page 34
9.0% "I'm pretty damn impressed so far."
08/03/2012 page 102
27.0% "Oh shucks, McGarry. You're going to make me cry - and how can I be a badass reviewer if I cry?" 7 comments
08/03/2012 page 190
49.0% "Oh damn! Real tears! Real tears!"
08/04/2012 page 328
85.0% "Damn it, McGarry! How many times are you going to break my damn heart?!" 3 comments
03/06/2016 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-15 of 15) (15 new)

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message 1: by Mithrendiel (new) - added it

Mithrendiel ha! This one is on my to read list as well. If it's good (or is it bad?) enough to make the great Kat Kennedy cry, then maybe I should move it up in reading priority. ;)


Kadensmomm this book is in my to-read list. Im excited to read your review on it before i start the book :)


Wendy ahem, cough

waiting...**impatiently**...for the review :)


Hatter Thanks for posting this, Kat. I've bought it, read it, and loved it. So happy now.


Nemo (The Moonlight Library) Ooooooooh I have this and now I can't wait to read it! What a great review.


Wendy Thanks for the review!

It's weird because you weep with love for it, but it's gotten luke warm reviews from others that I follow here on GR.

I'm sure I'll weep with you, if it has the MM magic you say it does. :)


Kat Kennedy It is a bit weird, Wendy. I can't say I understand the dislike because this book hit me really hard. I loved it.


Wendy Well, moments ago I finished The Underwater Welder, so I'm set to give my full attention to this.


message 9: by Megan (new) - added it

Megan (this should come as no surprise, but...) you had me at Marchetta :) Great review, added to the tbr!


Cassi aka Snow White Haggard When someone pulls the Marchetta card its pretty much auto-TBR piled.


Kat Kennedy I don't often pull the Marchetta card. But this was really fantastic.


Jennifer Lane I love books that make me laugh and cry! Thanks for yet another 5 star review that makes me want to read this, stat.


Christine Kat I could not agree more! I just finished this and I was crying so hard tonight that honestly... I can not remember the last night I cried that hard. But then I laughed also, smiled, cried some and then more smiling. Talk about an emotional roller coaster. I loved this book! What a difficult review this is going to be to write. I just want to start screaming from my window to tell everybody passing to read it NOW!


Kalliopeia Just like Megan, I put this on my to-reads list as soon as I read that connection. I really hope I like it.


Michael Great review! Thanks for rating this as that was one of the reasons I found this amazing book!

I hadn't put a name to the "flawed narration" aspect you describe, but that was definitely one of the things I loved about this book. So many books do this by having the characters make faulty assumptions and then not ask obvious questions to test their theories. That nonsense drives me crazy! Echo and Noah make honest attempts to understand their world and that is what I loved about them.

P.S. I think you must mean Marchetta. I will definitely put a few of her books in my queue for comparison.


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